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'GIF' Beats Out 'YOLO' As Oxford Dictionary Word Of 2012

NPR icon by Eyder Peralta
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"GIF," as in the file type, has been chosen as Oxford Dictionary's American word of 2012.

The runner up? "YOLO," which is short for "You only live once."

"The GIF, a compressed file format for images that can be used to create simple, looping animations, turned 25 this year, but like so many other relics of the 80s, it has never been trendier," Oxford said in its press release. "GIF celebrated a lexical milestone in 2012, gaining traction as a verb, not just a noun."

Indeed, everything from presidential debates to reality shows were GIFed.

Now, the big questions: What does it stand for? Graphic interchange format. How is it pronounced? Technology enthusiasts insist on pronouncing it like the peanut butter brand Jiff. But Oxford points out that the "the pronunciation with a hard g is now very widespread and readily understood."

We have to say that some of our favorite GIFs this year came from Mayor Michael Bloomberg's interpreter.

Here's one image, courtesy of the Tumblr blog "Lydia Callis's Face For NYC Mayor."

Oxford also gives us some other words that were on the 2012 shortlist:

Eurogeddon: the potential financial collapse of the European Union countries that have adopted the euro, envisaged as having catastrophic implications for the region's economic stability [from euro + (Arma)geddon]

Higgs boson: a subatomic particle whose existence is predicted by the theory that unified the weak and electromagnetic interactions

MOOC: massive open online course; a university course offered free of charge via the Internet

nomophobia: anxiety caused by being without one's mobile phone [from no + mo(bile) + phobia]

Super PAC: a type of independent political action committee which may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, and individuals but is not permitted to contribute to or coordinate directly with parties or candidates

superstorm: an unusually large and destructive storm

YOLO: you only live once; typically used as rationale or endorsement for impulsive or irresponsible behavior

What do you think? Did YOLO deserve the win? Any other word that was left out but shouldn't have been overlooked?

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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